Lower Lough Erne RSPB reserve, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland (c) David Wootton (rspb-images.com)

In this blog, Kim Dunn, Senior Policy Officer for the RSPB, explores the concept of ‘Nature Positive’ and our vision for the future.

This is the first in an exciting mini-series of three blogs posted in the next three Fridays setting out the RSPB vision for a nature positive future in the UK, what this means and what it will take to make this vision a reality. 

We will have a Nature Positive world when every economic, political and lifestyle decision has nature at its centre. By working collaboratively and creatively with partners, we can ensure we are all working towards the same goal, driving towards a future in which nature thrives.


What is Nature Positive?  

Nature Positive is the term of the moment, increasingly used by businesses and government to show new commitments to nature and the importance of ‘bending-the-curve’ for nature – a long-term goal of halting nature loss by 2030 and restoring and recovering nature by 2050. Done right, these commitments will also address many societal problems, from poverty and food security to health and wellbeing.   

Nature has a crucial role to play in fighting climate change, both through mitigation and adaptation. This means that Nature Positive isn’t just about conserving the populations of current species but ensuring that, as climate change drives habitat change (even if we do manage to stay within the 1.5C mark), conservation actions and restoration areas plan for future changes in ecosystem structure and biodiversity composition.  


What does it mean to us?  

Nature Positive is an overarching goal of the RSPB 2030 Corporate strategy – we see it as a powerful concept and communications frame to drive our mission to 2030. By actively engaging our movement in the Nature Positive concept, we can support commitment to nature and action to protect and restore it. While the term has predominantly been used at the global scale, we can also connect it to our ambitions across UK countries to secure binding targets in law for nature’s recovery, and drive action at the regional and local level.  

At the RSPB, we are at the forefront of ensuring we have more nature at the end of the decade than we started with, and as the IPCC report (2022) has clearly stated: ‘Safeguarding biodiversity is fundamental for climate-resilient societal development’. While there are many aspects of Nature Positive that are challenging – nature cannot be measured in a single number, and what ‘good nature’ is can be debated until the end of time – we do know what actions can be taken to start getting society on the right path. We also know the importance of science-led targets, and clear, measurable outcomes that will ensure that actions that claim to be Nature Positive, really do have a positive impact on nature. There is no single metric that can be used to measure nature, but with the right assessment and monitoring, positive improvements can be tracked and recorded to show benefits to nature.   


Our focus  

Land-use change in the UK is largely driven by 3 key sectors, Food & Farming, Forestry and Housebuilding. We also have to recognise the impact of renewables, particularly offshore wind, as this has substantial implications for the marine environment, but is also crucial to achieve net zero goals. These 4 sectors are therefore our ‘target sectors’ when looking at Nature Positive, thinking about the right actions at the right time for nature.  


How can we get there? 

We know we are in a climate and biodiversity crisis, and we know that things aren’t going to improve until fundamental changes are made across society, not just in the protection and conservation of natural spaces, but also in our daily interactions with nature. Nature Positive extends the discussion to whole system change – not just the 30% to protect and conserve (30 by 30), but the other 70%, looking at how the whole of society can help nature thrive.  

The Dasgupta review, commissioned by the UK Government, explores the economics of biodiversity and recognises that ‘The solution starts with understanding and accepting a simple truth: our economies are embedded within Nature, not external to it.’ A Nature Positive world begins when every economic, political and lifestyle decision has nature at its centre, with no negative impact on nature occurring. Perhaps more importantly, it actively drives the recovery and restoration of healthy ecosystems across the globe.   

There are many aspects of the Nature Positive approach still to explore – what a nature positive world looks like is not yet determined. How does nature get incorporated into the bustling life of major cities? How can farmers achieve stable production and income whilst addressing the need for reduced monocultures? How can houses be built to work with nature, where do the materials come from and what do people’s gardens look like?   


Our call to action  

If you can imagine it, you can create it’ (William Arthur Ward)

We know what we need to do, and we know how to start – so let’s get going.   

We need to work collaboratively, with sector experts, policy leaders and businesses, to design and recognise what a Nature Positive future could look like for the sector. We need to ensure we are all working to the same goal, for biodiversity and climate, and this will take open conversations, transparency and willingness to try new things and test new approaches.    

Nature Positive will look different in each economic sector, but it is clear that we need to be valuing nature for what it really is, the lifeforce of the world, providing us with services that we are only beginning to understand, making it even more important for everyone, in all walks of life, to act towards Nature Positive. To maintain our own prosperity, we must identify and embrace the boundaries within which our economy can flourish.  

We need everyone to be involved, we need creative solutions and innovations, that, combined with the right actions and the right policies in the right places, lead to us to having more nature at the end of the decade than we have now.

So, what does a Nature Positive world look like to you?   

Contact: Kim.Dunn@rspb.org.uk